For one brief moment, may I speak directly to the baking trade’s youth? They might be students finishing their first year or graduating after their final year. 

They may even be graduates starting out in their careers, hopefully in the baking industry.

You are the bakers of tomorrow. You are this industry’s future. Without you, there will be no tomorrow, no businesses, no allied trades supporting bakers, no technical bakers developing the future of bakery science, pushing the boundaries of what we are capable of.

That’s an interesting comment – ‘pushing the boundaries’. Who pushes our own boundaries? Who will push your boundaries to your wildest dreams? Me? Your lecturer? Sadly, nobody will, unless you do it yourselves.

At this moment in time you probably haven’t even considered that the world you live in, and the job you have just trained for, is in a global economy. Not a European or local economy, but a global economy. And if you can’t speak a foreign language you are already behind in the game. As we speak, bread is being shipped in from poorer countries ‘par baked’ and then refreshed in store. It’s currently devastating the German bakery market and other European markets equally. Been into a Lidl lately? And seen all their bake-off breads on display?

I say ‘global’ because we are a part of the greater European community and its employment regulations. Hundreds of European bakers are coming over here from their own market knowing we pay better wages than in their own country, and they are very good crafts people. As a business person and craftsman, I welcome them wholeheartedly.

They can bake very good bread and create the finest of confectioneries. We are also part of the world bakery scene, where food programmes are broadcast on our own TVs, whether it be Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives (my favourite) or the numerous celebration cake programmes, like Cake Boss and Cakegirls to name only a few. All these TV programmes, which infiltrate our daily lives also influence the minds of our customers, who all want something different, something special, something original.

We at the Craft Bakers’ Association will welcome you and mentor youth in our member businesses, all 600 of them, where we will find you internships in the best bakeries and give you a head start in your career.

Remember networking is a working talent which you must also master. A statistic from the institute of directors states that over 90% of all management positions are not even advertised. It’s who you know!!

Ladies and gentlemen of the class on 2015, welcome to the bakery and confectionery industry. Get involved, make friends, travel constantly, be open minded, be different. Never say ‘no’, the answer is always ‘yes’. Work diligently, share your knowledge, learn from others with grace, accept their tributes, you’ve earned then, but more importantly have fun, because if you stay the course it’s one hell of a ride.